Scene 1: The back seat of a State car. En route to the annual Béal na Bláth commemoration, and against the background of a crisis in the peace
process, the Minister for Justice takes an urgent call from the Garda
Frances Fitzgerald: Commissioner?
Noirín O’Sullivan: Good morning, Minister. You asked me for an
assessment on whether a certain organisation still exists?
Fitzgerald: Yes – the grouping formally known as Reform Alliance. Or the ‘RA, for short.
O’Sullivan: Right – although they call themselves Renua now,
as you know. Well, all our information suggests that they do still
exist in some form. That there’s a command structure, and a
hierarchy of sorts.
Fitzgerald: I see. But are they engaged in parapolitical activity,
do you think?
O’Sullivan: Not as far as we can tell. I mean, the leadership do
the odd media interview, which we believe is a way of reassuring
their grassroots that they haven’t gone away, you know. But
there doesn’t seem to be any meaningful activity going on.
Fitzgerald: So would you say, in summary, that they’re no
threat to the political process?
O’Sullivan: None whatsoever, minister. In fact, in merely
continuing to exist, while not doing much, they may be helping
to stabilise the situation, by dissuading potential dissidents.
Fitzgerald: Well that’s a great relief, Commissioner. You’ve set
my mind at rest.
Scene 2: An office in Dublin Central. The Minister for August sits at his
desk, studying the latest private opinion polls, while looking worried.
Then the phone rings and he answers.
Minister: Paschal Donohoe here. How can I help?
Caller: I want to report a cat up a tree. Is this the right place?
Donohoe: Well, any other month, I’d refer you to the fire brigade.
But it’s August, and not only am I desperate to get my picture in
the papers, but since there don’t seem to be any other politicians
left in Dublin, there’s a better than usual chance of that
happening. So where exactly is this cat?
Caller: Up a tree. Like I said.
Donohoe: OK, but where’s the tree?
Caller: It’s on the corner of Sean McDermott St and Gloucester
Donohoe (writing down address): Grand. I’ll be there in 15
minutes. (He hangs up and rings the Government press office). Hello?
Press officer: You again, minister!
Donohoe: Yeah. Listen, ring the newsdesks and tell them I’ll be at
the corner of Sean McDermott Street and Gloucester Place in 15
minutes, announcing a new public transport initiative.
Press officer: Another one? What’s it this time?
Donohoe: I’m not sure – I’ll think of one en route. But tell them
there’ll be a photo op of me rescuing a cat.
Press officer: A cat? Good one, minister! It’s a slow news day –
that could make the front pages.
Donohoe: My thoughts exactly.
Scene 3: Claremorris, Co Mayo. As he arrives for a canvass, accompanied
by a journalist from Independent Newspapers, Michael Ring discusses
tactics with local councillor Tom Connolly.
Ring (looking over shoulder and lowering voice): Ok, Tom. I have this
lad from the Independent following me around today, so we need
keep this classy.
Connolly: Don’t worry, Mick. We’ll stick to Westbury and Lakeview –
ye can’t go far wrong there. Nice big houses, very respectable. You
might get the odd Fianna Fáiler. But no Shinners.
Ring: Good. We don’t want to give these Dublin journalists any
excuse to make a feck of us.
Connolly: No danger of that. I’m well in here – I got them these new
speed bumps recently. Nice, aren’t they?
Ring: Yeah, right enough – they’re lovely bumps. Make sure and
mention them as often as possible on the doorsteps.
Connolly: That’s the plan.
(Half an hour later)
Ring: Well, so far so good. Although there’s an awful lot of people
Connolly: Yeah, or pretending not to be in. (He hesitates at a
driveway). Now these are definitely in, I know. But they vote
Ring (bounding up driveway): Ah, no matter. Sure we’ll probably
end up in coalition together. Anything to keep the Shinners out.
(They ring the doorbell and a middle-aged woman answers)
Connolly: Hello Missus. Councillor Tom Connolly. And this is
Minister Michael Ring.
Woman: I know who ye are and I won’t be voting for ye.
Ring (undaunted): Why’s that?
Woman: Because Enda Kenny is only a bollocks and my children
are going to be paying for his helicopter trips for years to come.
Ring (trying to ignore sound of journalist writing furiously in his
notebook): Ah now.
Connolly: But what do you think of the new speed ramps,
missus? (The door closes.)
Connolly: Sorry about that, Mick.
Scene 4: A swimming pool, somewhere. Relaxing in a sun lounger while
reading her iPad, Joan Burton frowns suddenly and makes a call on her
Burton: Are you reading this nonsense in the Sunday Indo?
Alan Kelly (at other end): What? No, I haven’t seen any Irish
papers for a few days. I’m on holidays.
Burton: Well, among other guff about how the Blueshirts have
given up on us and are planning to cut and run after the budget,
they’re quoting ministerial sources as saying that you and me
don’t get on.
Kelly: That’s ridiculous. I mean, I know I’d make a much better
leader than you.
Burton: They say, and I quote, that we’re “in a bad place”.
Kelly: A bad place? I’m in Marbella – I don’t know about you.
Burton: So you had nothing to do with this?
Burton (checking iPad again): Meanwhile, I see I’m also getting
grief for our YouTube videos. The ones about how, thanks to
Labour, people have more money in their pockets.
Kelly: What are the press saying about them?
Burton: Oh they’re quoting the usual suspects as saying that the
video proves I’m out of (phone makes garbled sounds).
Kelly: Sorry, I didn’t get that last bit – you’re breaking up a bit.
Burton: They’re trying to claim that I’m out of touch with
Kelly: Sorry, can’t hear. The signal must be bad at your end.
Burton (raising voice): THEY’RE SAYING I’M OUT OF TOUCH.
Kelly (shaking head): No, lost her. (He terminates call).